IN PHOTOS: The 'modern' baro't saya

BALIK SAYA. Models showcase the designs of the Balik Saya competition at the National Museum of Natural History.

All photos by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After weeks of mentorship and consultation with the top brass of Philippine fashion, 15 budding designers showcased their interpretations of the baro't saya during the Balik Saya competition on Monday, May 28 at the National Museum of Natural History.

Mariah Marella Parayparay of St. Scholastica's College won the grand prize. Other winners include Alaine Isabelle Leones (1st runner-up), Somera Rana (2nd runner-up), Sandra Lou Galang (3rd runner-up), and Alexandra Gustillo (4th runner-up).

Special awards were given to Rana Vashti (Rustan's Award), Vianka Castro (SOFA Award), and Christian Bulasag (FAB Creative Award).

A project of Manila 5th district representative Cristal Bagatsing, the Balik Saya aims to upgrade the look of the Filipiniana like its counterpart the terno.

The baro't saya or Maria Clara is one of two of the country's national dresses. The top or baro is normally made of piña fiber and accompanied with a separate skirt known as the saya. Unlike the terno, the baro't saya has more components. Aside from the top and skirt, there is also the pañuelo (fichu) and either an extra cloth or apron on top of it.

Designer Joji Lloren, who mentored the finalists, said that it was a challenge to teach them because most were not fashion students.

"This is the first time I mentored a group of designers who are not really professionals or not even students of fashion. So parang basically they have zero knowledge. So medyo mas mahirap (it was a bit tough) and I think that's one difference. And ang nakakatuwa naman kasi (what's heartwarming is) when you saw them, okay naman di ba (it was okay right)?" 

When asked why they decided to do a challenge for the baro't saya, the Project Runway Philippines mentor said: "I believe that we have to bring back you know, the national costume. The Maria Clara being one of them, it has to come forward from the shadows. Yung terno nagawa na (The terno had its turn) so the Maria Clara, it's about time that we resurrect [it] and parang (like) modernize it."

BARO'T SAYA. Models show the different interpretations of the baro't saya.


PINK AND FUSHIA. Rana Sacramento's interpretation of the baro't saya.

PLAYFUL. Vianka Castro's interpretation of the baro't saya.

EMBELLISHMENT. Zayre Capangyarihan's interpretation of the baro't saya.


MODERN TAKE. Former Bb Pilipinas Supranational Joanna Eden models a creation of designer Joji Lloren during the Balik Saya competition.

DIFFERENT TAKE. Jackie Ombao's baro't saya creation.

FAB AWARD. Christian Bulasag accepts the FAB Creatives Award.

SPECIAL AWARD. Vianka Castro accepts her special award from SOFA.

3RD PLACE. Sarah Lou Galang's father accepts her award on her behalf.

BLACK AND WHITE. Alaine Isabelle Leones design wins 2nd place and was accepted by her mom.

GRAND PRIZE. Mariah Parayparay poses with her model, Manila 5th district Rep. Cristal Bagatsing and National Museum Jeremy Barns after receiving the grand prize for Balik Saya.

Balik Saya was organized by the Intramuros Administration together with the Department of Tourism, the National Museum of the Philippines, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Rustan's, the Bayleaf Hotels Manila, and Ilustrado. –